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Tourists illegally taken to Northern Cyprus

Famagusta kuurordist on saanud kummituslinn. PHOTO: AP/Scanpix

In case of accidents, Estonian tourists in Northern Cyprus will be unprotected and without consular assistance.

Instead of Egypt, tour operator GoAdventure started to take people to Northern Cyprus. Foreign ministry says this is not good, as in case of accidents it is not possible to provide consular assistance there, neither does Northern Cyprus accept the European health insurance card.

Starting April 6th, GoAdventure cancelled all trips to Egypt. The first cancelled trips were replaced with trips to Northern Cyprus; afterwards the alternate destination will be Turkey.

According to company website, departures to Northern Cyprus are scheduled for Thursday and Saturday. Two groups were flown to Northern Cyprus yesterday and the day before. The tour operator advertises taking tourists to resorts of Famagusta, Kyrenia and Lapta.

According to foreign ministry vide chancellor Lauri Bambus, Northern Cyprus is not a good alternative for Egypt: should accidents happen, tourists will there be unprotected.

Cyprus is split into two. In the northern part of the island, there sits the self-declared Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus – recognised by Turkey alone. The northern part of Cyprus does not belong to the European Union, international conventions do not apply. 

«Should something happen to our citizens, we cannot provide the needed consular assistance. Health insurance card isn’t accepted there,» described Mr Bambus. In case of accidents, it will be difficult also to enter the southern part of the island, as that would be illegal.

GoAdventure’s flight to Eracan airport in Northern Cyprus includes a stop in Antalaya, Turkey, where the passengers never exit the plane. «From the point of view of Cyprus, this is not a legal entry into Cyprus,» noted Mr Bambus.

Legal entry and exit points to the Republic of Cyprus are the international airports Larnaca and Paphos, as well as ports in Larnaca, Limassol, Latsi and Paphos.

EU citizens are able to visit the northern part of the island, crossing the check line in Cypriot points specified for that. When crossing the line, passport needs to be presented and an application filled.

Crossing the check line, Northern Cyprus may only be visited for one day. Group visits are not allowed at all by Cyprus. 

«The Cypriot government says that the various accommodation services and transport services are out of their control. Quality of services is not guaranteed, security is not guaranteed,» said Mr Bambus, citing reasons for the limitations. According to him, to fly there via Turkey still cannot be prohibited.  

GoAdventure CEO Marina Moks declined to comment.

Estonian Travel and Tourism Association secretary general Kristen Lahtein said to his knowledge Estonian tour operators have not organised group travels to Northern Cyprus.